National Council of Churches General Secretary Bob Edgar will end his second term this year and said he will not seek another four-year term.
The announcement was made to the governing board and staff early this week and the search for a new general secretary will begin early 2007.
During his eight years of service as chief administrative officer of NCC, Edgar, an ordained United Methodist elder, has drawn wide attention to issues of poverty, the environment, human rights and peacemaking. He is noted as one of the primary spokesmen for the religious left in America.
"During Bob Edgar's watch, we have worked to build unity among our diverse families of faith and a strong witness within the wider society," said the Rev. Michael Livingston, president of the NCC. "All of the Council's programs have undergone renewal and expansion, and important concerns such as poverty, the environment, human rights and peacemaking have been addressed. We will have much to thank Bob Edgar for when his time of service becomes part of the Council's honored history."
Edgar has been an active voice in moral issues especially the fight against poverty for the tens of millions of poor families in America alone. He has weighed poverty concerns much more heavily over the prevailing issues of homosexuality and abortion that many Christians are dealing with.
He released his latest book Middle Church: Reclaiming the Moral Values of the Faithful Majority from the Religious Right last month, pointing out that Christians are being represented and muted by politicians and religious figures from the right. In the book, he encourages the "Middle Church" to connect their spiritual values with political issues and discover God's call to all humanity.
As Edgar approaches his term conclusion, he said, "I care deeply about the Council and have invested my best self in the work. The Council has been returned to financial stability and has reclaimed its place as a prophetic ecumenical voice heeding Christ's call to serve the least among us."
Edgar's term ends Dec. 31, 2007 and a search committee for a new general secretary will be named this fall.